Contact: K.E. Schwab -- 724-738-2199;
SRU STUDENTS VISIT HISTORIC HURRICANE
SITE TO MAKE CLASS WORK UP CLOSE, PERSONAL
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa.
– Everyone agrees classroom learning is great, but hands on,
on-site learning is even better, and at Slippery Rock University
students in a variety of geography, geology and the environment
courses often get such opportunities, including one recent trip for
30 students and 10 faculty to South County, R.I., to see up close
and personal the damage and destruction wreaked by a hurricane 68
department group saw firsthand the devastation caused by the Sept.
21, 1938, event that still ranks as the fifth deadliest hurricane
to ever strike hit U.S. East Coast. The storm killed
The visit was
part of the department’s annual field trip designed to
investigate the U.S. coast and help students learn from the past,
says Dr. Carolyn Prorok, veteran professor of geography, geology
and the environment. “This was a hurricane that tore apart
the lives of costal residents and still has ramifications today. It
is important for students to see firsthand how the environment
– and the economy and history – can be changed very
quickly,” she adds.
Snow, assistant professor in the department who organized the trip,
explains, “One of the ways our department prepares students
for their future in environmental careers and mapping is through
fieldwork with faculty. We have been to New York City, the
Assateague Island National Seashore, Sudbury-Ontario, Puerto Rico
and Costa Rica in field trips that give students real-life
experiences and opportunities to put their learning into
practice.” Other department- and university-supported
field trips in the last year have taken groups to Yellowstone
National Park, the Badlands of South Dakota, New Mexico and the
important part of our most recent journey allowed time on Napatree
Point, a sand spit jutting off the western shores of Rhode Island.
There had been 44 homes on the point; 15 lives were washed into the
ocean by the killer hurricane. Only four survivors were found after
the storm, all of them hunkered in an abandoned military fort.
Every home, car and reminder of life was washed from the beach
– and some 68 years later, it remains the same.
Tom Quinn, an
environmental geoscience student from Slippery Rock, wrote in his
trip journal, “Looking around Napatree, I couldn’t
fathom what had happened. There is no trace of what was there in
1938, only the old fort. Structures were erased from the landscape
-- Mother Nature wanted a new drawing board.” On returning,
he noted, “Having an experience in the field with extremely
knowledgeable people makes the learning process kick into high
One day of
the trip allowed the SRU group to focus on geology. Students
visited the unique rock called “Narragansett Pier
Granite,” which, at one time had been miles below the
Earth’s surface, and connected to Africa, says Dr. Tamra
Schiappa, assistant professor of geology. Students were told about
the continental collisions and the resulting breakup millions of
years ago. They used their time to find evidence of the breakup
within the rocks.
A day at
Beavertail State Park investigating animals in the rocky intertidal
zone, a thin line between life and death that creates sharp
contrasts in the kinds of species living in different parts of the
rocks, allowed students to see how rapid the zonation occurs as
they spent hours examining the area – and
tackling the waves.
are under way for a trip to Upstate New York to find fossils of
extinct marine life next September.
PN, PGN, WPN, PR --- Art available and